How to improve preconception care in a local setting? Views from Dutch multidisciplinary healthcare providers

Midwifery. 2022 Apr;107:103274. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2022.103274. Epub 2022 Feb 8.


Objective: To explore healthcare providers' views on improving preconception care in their region.

Design: Mixed-methods study.

Setting: Working conferences aimed to educate healthcare providers on preconceptional risk factors and conduct a region-specific analysis of barriers and facilitators for implementing preconception care, were organised in ten municipalities in the Netherlands.

Participants: 250 healthcare providers of various disciplines attended a working conference and participated in the study.

Measurements and findings: Participants were asked to both fill out a questionnaire concerning statements and experiences with preconception care and to participate in a workshop, to identify barriers and facilitators for the implementation of a local preconception care program. Almost all healthcare providers suggested that the responsibility for providing preconception care consultations lies within primary care (general practitioners (n = 239; 95.6%) and midwives (n = 236; 94.4%)). Professionals other than midwives found it significantly more difficult to start a conversation about a wish to conceive compared to midwives (26.8% versus 20.2%, p-value = 0.006) and felt less competent to provide preconceptional information (32.3% versus 15.1%, p-value = <0.001). Innovative facilitators were mentioned to improve reaching the target population with preconceptional information, i.e. the use of social media and local ambassadors.

Key conclusion: While the responsibility for providing preconception care consultations is best suited with primary care, many other healthcare providers involved may act as referrers towards preconception care. Still, approximately 1 in 7 midwives (strongly) disagree with the statement that it is part of their job to provide preconceptional information to couples with a wish to conceive.

Implications for practice: There is a need for integrating preconception care in many curricula and postgraduate courses, especially for non-midwives, to improve the delivery of preconception care. Insights in the suggested barriers and facilitators can improve the implementation of (local) preconception care programs.

Keywords: Facilitators; Health promotion; Healthcare provider; Implementation; Preconception care.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Midwifery*
  • Preconception Care* / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires